I’ve just managed to make a campfire. I put one of my slices of Turkish bread in a pan on the fire. Just at the moment that I want to toast the bread I hear voices in the distance. I look towards the sound and see a big light coming towards me.
I sit here alone, my bike is organized behind me against a tree and beside me I pitched my tent. I’m at a place where I do not know if it’s okay that I’m camping. I do not even know who is the owner of this piece of land where I’m going to sleep tonight. Behind the big light I see four men with dark jackets. I’m starting to worry. Who are they? And why are they walking directly towards me? What do they want?
The day after my visit to Uzungöl it was time to visit the Embassy of Iran again. My Visa Registration Code now stood in the system and after arranging some documents it would take three working days before I could get the visa. Of course a weekend was in between and I needed to cover five extra days in Trabzon. I had no money for an even longer stay at the hostel. After a long discussion I was allowed to stay one free extra night.
The next day I went to look with all my belongings for a campsite to bridge the next three nights. I decided to cycle into the mountains and after 15 kilometers I found an empty lawn where I pitched my tent in the corner. I hoped it would be mostly quiet but I soon found out that my chosen place was a kind of recreation lawn. And guess what, the day I arrived it was a national holiday and Saturday and Sunday it was weekend. What also was apparent, a Dutch cyclist that stays right here on this lawn, has probably never happened and probably will never happen again.
My tent was pitched for just an hour and the first surprise was on its way. A herd of at least 200 sheep came to graze undisturbed around my tent. The shepherd came to visit me. He seemed irritated and spat every 30 seconds in front of me on the ground. A conversation could not get going. Pointing to my tent and looking at him quizzically I asked if it was ok that I was going to sleep here. He nodded with an irritated look. Maybe he was just always irritated. I can imagine if you have to hold a shade of 200 sheep day and night together without any sufficient fence around it. But I was happy that I could stay here.
Not long after the sheep were gone suddenly there came four boys curious walking towards me. After the usual questions, where I come from and what on earth I was doing here, one of them asked: “Ekmek?” This means bread and I had not yet eaten. I nodded modestly. With a gesture that I had to stay here they walked away to get food for me. And amazingly, after 20 minutes they came back with a large bread with köfte on it. Those little pieces of meat which are the most delicious in the Trabzon area.
The next day I was awakened by the shepherd who, as usual stood spitting in front of my tent and now with his son to say good morning. I unzipped my tent and greeted him. Then he looked with his son at me for about five minutes. I started to make a cup of coffee and putted on an occasionally friendly smile.
This day was a rainy day with modest surprises. Probably to prepare me for the next day. The next day, around noon, five Turkish boys came with a bbq, a bucket full of raw chicken and some vegetables to enjoy this beautiful sunny day on this lawn.
There was already two days a sheep laying on the ground that could not walk and could not go with the herd. It was just lying on the lawn, alive, perhaps waiting until he could walk again. Sick or injured, I do not know exactly. What I do know is that one of the Turkish boys took the sheep by the horns and brought him to where they were cooking food. I decided to take some latitude because the sheep was from that farmer who came from time to time spitting in front of my tent right?
When I walked towards them, I did not believe my eyes. One of the boys started to cut the sheep his throat, putted the beast away in a sack and throwed him in the trunk. Dazed, I ask him if this is normal and that the sheep is not from the farmer. He makes clear with hand gestures that this is the will of Allah and then asks me if I want to eat chicken, breadf and vegetables with them. I didn’t understand the situation anymore and decided to just join the guys to eat with them.
After the guys cut enough wood for at least a week camping, I let the whole scene sink in to me. With a large bag of bread and vegetables next to me, which they left me. I do not now if I should feel guilty for the farmers sheep because he will eventually miss his sheep. With this thoughts the evening fell.
And then, the men came. They mumbled something, grabbed my bread out of the pan and put it back in the bag. I had to go. I wouldn’t eat here tonight. We walked 200 meters to a restaurant. I had just picked up by the villagers who found out that I was here to camp. I went to eat while the rest watched Trabzonspor – Beşiktaş. There was a tear in my eye that I did not allow to get out. What happened? What did I do to deserve this?
And even more dazed I’m standing there with a mouth full of teeth. I do not accept it but get no option to return it.
I walk at 4:00PM to the consulate for my appointment at 4:30PM. I have to come back in 30 minutes and when I return I get immediately my visa for a 30-day visit to Iran.
At the insistence of the villagers who called me by now ‘kardeş’ I went back to spend the night there. The next morning, after a hot shower, after fresh washed clothes, a big Turkish breakfast and a bag full of olives, cheese and bread I get on my bicycle in the direction of Georgia.